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Job Search Methods

Personal contacts. Your family, friends, and acquaintances may offer one of the most effective ways to find a job. They may help you directly or put you in touch with someone else who can. Such networking can lead to information about specific job openings, many of which may not be publicly posted.

School career planning and placement offices. High school and college placement offices help their students and alumni find jobs. They set up appointments and allow recruiters to use their facilities for interviews. Placement offices usually have a list of part-time, temporary, and summer jobs offered on campus. They also may have lists of jobs for regional, nonprofit, and government organizations. Students can receive career counseling and testing and job search advice. At career resource libraries, they may attend workshops on such topics as job search strategy, resume writing, letter writing, and effective interviewing; critique drafts of resumes and watch videotapes of mock interviews; explore files of resumes and references; and attend job fairs conducted by the placement office.

Employers. Through your library and Internet research, develop a list of potential employers in your desired career field. Employer Web sites often contain lists of job openings. Websites and business directories can provide you with information on how to apply for a position or whom to contact. Even if no open positions are posted, do not hesitate to contact the employer and the relevant department. Set up an interview with someone working in the same area in which you wish to work. Ask them how they got started, what they enjoy or dislike about the work, what type of qualifications are necessary for the job, and what type of personality succeeds in that position. Even if they don’t have a position available, they may be able to put you in contact with other people who might hire you, and they can keep you in mind if a position opens up. Make sure to send them your resume and a cover letter. If you are able to obtain an interview, be sure to send a thank-you note. Directly contacting employers is one of the most successful means of job hunting.

Classified ads. The "Help Wanted" ads in newspapers list numerous jobs. You should realize, however, that many other job openings are not listed, and that the classified ads sometimes do not give all of the important information. They may offer little or no description of the job, working conditions, or pay. Some ads do not identify the employer. They may simply give a post office box to which you can mail your resume, making followup inquiries very difficult. Some ads offer out-of-town jobs; others advertise employment agencies rather than actual employment opportunities.

When using classified ads, keep the following in mind:

  • Do not rely solely on the classifieds to find a job; follow other leads as well.
  • Answer ads promptly, because openings may be filled quickly, even before the ad stops appearing in the paper.
  • Read the ads every day, particularly the Sunday edition, which usually includes the most listings.
  • Beware of "no experience necessary" ads. These ads often signal low wages, poor working conditions, or commission work.
  • Keep a record of all ads to which you have responded, including the specific skills, educational background, and personal qualifications required for the position.

Internet networks and resources. The Internet provides a variety of information, including job listings and job search resources and techniques. However, no single Web site or resource will contain all of the information available on employment or career opportunities, so be prepared to search for what you need. Remember that job listings may be posted by field or discipline, so begin your search using keywords. Some Web sites provide national or local classified listings and allow jobseekers to post their resumes online. Other sites offer advice on how to search for a job, prepare for an interview, or write your resume. When searching employment databases on the Internet, it usually is possible to send your resume to an employer by e-mail or to post it online.

State employment service offices. The State employment service, sometimes called Job Service, operates in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. Local offices, found nationwide, help jobseekers find jobs and help employers find qualified workers at no cost to either. To find the office nearest you, look in the State government telephone listings under "Job Service" or "Employment."

Job matching and referral. At the State employment service office, an interviewer will determine if you are "job ready" or if you need help from counseling and testing services to assess your occupational aptitudes and interests and to help you choose and prepare for a career. After you are "job ready," you may examine available job listings and select openings that interest you. A staff member can then describe the job openings in detail and arrange for interviews with prospective employers.

America’s Job Bank, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, is an Internet site that allows you to search through a database of over one million jobs Nationwide, create and post your resume online, and set up an automated job search. The database contains a wide range of mostly full-time private sector jobs that are available all over the country. Job seekers can access America’s Job Bank at: http://www.ajb.org Computers with access to the Internet are available to the public in any local public employment service office, school, library, and military installation.

Using Internet Resources to Plan your Future, a U.S. Department of Labor publication, offers advice on organizing your Internet job search. It is primarily intended to provide instruction for jobseekers on how to use the Internet to their best advantage, but recruiters and other career service industry professionals will find information here to help them also. How to Use the Internet in your Job Search; The Job Search Process; and the Career-Related Pages, other U.S. Department of Labor Internet publications, each discusses specific steps that jobseekers can follow to identify employment opportunities. Included are daily tips and hints, plus a large database of links and job search engines. Many Department of Labor and other publications for jobseekers are available at: http://safetynet.doleta.gov/netsourc.htm. Check with your State employment service office, or order a copy of these and other publications from the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Superintendent of Documents. Telephone: (202) 512-1800. Internet: http://bookstore.gpo.gov or http://www.doleta.gov.

Services for special groups. By law, veterans are entitled to priority for job placement at State employment service centers. If you are a veteran, a veterans’ employment representative can inform you of available assistance and help you to deal with problems.

State employment service offices refer people to opportunities available under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. WIA reforms Federal employment, adult education, and vocational rehabilitation programs to create an integrated, "one-stop" system of workforce investment and education activities for adults and youths. Services are provided to employers and jobseekers, including adults, dislocated workers, and youths. WIA's primary purpose is to increase the employment, retention, skills, and earnings of participants. These programs help to prepare people to participate in the State's workforce, increase their employment and earnings potential, improve their educational and occupational skills, and reduce their dependency on welfare, which will improve the quality of the workforce and enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the Nation's economy.

Federal Government.Information on obtaining a position with the Federal Government is available from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) through a telephone-based system. Consult your telephone directory under U.S. Government for a local number or call the Federal Relay Service for the hearing impaired (800) 877-8339. The first number is not tollfree, and charges may result. Information also is available from the OPM Internet site at: http://www.usajobs.com.

Professional associations. Many professions have associations that offer employment information, including career planning, educational programs, job listings, and job placement. To use these services, associations usually require that you be a member; information can be obtained directly from an association through the Internet, by telephone, or by mail.

Labor unions. Labor unions provide various employment services to members, including apprenticeship programs that teach a specific trade or skill. Contact the appropriate labor union or State apprenticeship council for more information.

Private employment agencies and career consultants. These agencies can be helpful, but they are in business to make money. Most operate on a commission basis, with the fee dependent upon a percentage of the salary paid to a successful applicant. You or the hiring company will pay the fee. Find out the exact cost and who is responsible for paying associated fees before using the service.

Although employment agencies can help you save time and contact employers who otherwise might be difficult to locate, the costs may outweigh the benefits if you are responsible for the fee. Contacting employers directly often will generate the same type of leads that a private employment agency will provide. Consider any guarantees that the agency offers when determining if the service is worth the cost.

Community agencies. Many nonprofit organizations, including religious institutions and vocational rehabilitation agencies, offer counseling, career development, and job placement services, generally targeted to a particular group, such as women, youths, minorities, ex-offenders, or older workers.


Learn about: Applying for a Job



Last Modified Date: February 27, 2004


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